Sell Descartes, buy Spinoza

Investors, take note: this Dutch rationalist is a hot stock

Rebecca Goldstein

… Today, we value any early modern who sides against Descartes’ dualism between mind and body. Spinoza not only rejected such dualism, but also denied the dualism between cognition and emotion. In Looking for Spinoza, neuroscientist Antonio Damasio expresses his amazement that Spinoza reasoned his way to the integration between thinking and feeling, which Damasio has now verified in his laboratory. There’s nothing like the imprimatur of science to increase a philosopher’s price-to-earnings ratio.

Another scientist who was passionately Spinozist (going so far as to write him a gushing poem) was Albert Einstein. In Spinoza’s conception of nature, he recognised intuitions matching his own, concerning the elusive unified field theory. Einstein also relied on Spinoza to get him out of trouble when queried by a rabbi as to whether or not he believed in God, averring that he believed in “Spinoza’s God.”

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